TV Review - Betrayal

Hannah Ware (left) and Stuart Townsend
have a secret affair in 'Betrayal'
Like Revenge, which is the program that precedes Betrayal on Sunday nights, this show began with a shooting and then rewinds backwards six months and makes the narrative all about explaining what led to that shooting. A young woman is shot. We don't know by whom or why.

When we rewind back, all we know is that the young woman is Sara Henley, played by Hannah Ware (Boss). She's a photographer in Chicago who works for a magazine and has a husband, Drew, played by Chris J. Johnson (Against the Wall). At a gallery opening, Sara meets Jack McAllister, played by Stuart Townsend (XIII: The Series). McAllister is a lawyer for a powerful businessman named Thatcher Karsten, played by James Cromwell (Six Feet Under and 24). McAllister is married too but with two teenage kids. One of whom may be a lesbian. Once Sara and Jack meet, some kind of a connection is made, perhaps purely physical attraction or perhaps something deeper and more romantic.

Unlike Revenge or really any other drama on ABC, this show doesn't seem to have that much or any kind of a rich or complicated back story for its two main characters. By the third episode, some complications are possibly revealed about Jack, but he as a character still feels pretty thin. When it comes to Sara, there's really nothing to her at all that makes her more interesting or compelling than your average Barbie doll.

The one thing that this show has going for it is probably the one thing it gets wrong. The one thing is sex. This show is all about sex, teasing it as much as possible and depicting it as boldly as possible. Both the second and the third episode open with Sara masturbating thinking about Jack. The centerpiece is obviously the affair that Sara and Jack have in the pilot episode, so yes this show is about sex.

The way they get it wrong is simply that I don't buy the chemistry between Sara and Jack. I hate to say it, but Stuart Townsend is not that hot a guy. He's not ugly, but he's not that handsome. I would certainly argue that he's not any more handsome or charming than Chris J. Johnson who plays Sara's husband Drew. Plus, the fact I don't see anything so wrong in Sara and Drew's relationship  that would make her stray.

This is essentially the problem that I had with Tyler Perry's Temptation earlier this year. The woman having the affair was having the affair with a man not any more good-looking or attractive than her husband and was arguably less so. If Sara is going to cheat, really based on not much more than the guy's appearance, then he better be drop-dead gorgeous or so charismatic and personable as to be undeniable. Jack is not that guy.

One could argue that maybe it was his personality or other traits that lured her, but based on what we see, that's a hard sell. Jack's personality isn't that much greater than Drew's or even all that distinguishable, or interesting. The twist of the series is that Drew is a lawyer as well and ends up opposing Jack in the some court case, so it's not as if Sara went outside the box. She ended up having an affair with another lawyer. How boring!

Based on a Dutch series and adapted by David Zabel, this is essentially a prime-time soap opera. As such, if he wanted to be sexy and dramatic, he should have thought juicier. Instead of Stuart Townsend, a good actor or at least a sexier one to have as Sara's affair would have been Gilles Marini from ABC's Brothers & Sisters. He might not have worked or been as believable playing Thatcher's lawyer but he could have been a fellow artist who could have enchanted Sara that way. Someone like Marini who's gorgeous and has perhaps an exotic charm would have been better.

Or, perhaps, the show could have cast someone African-American like Taye Diggs from ABC's Private Practice. Having Sara fantasize about another, average, white lawyer is not as interesting as having her fantasize about a black man, someone clearly distinguishable from her husband.

Or, perhaps, the show could have had her hook up with Thatcher himself. Cromwell is essentially playing the same character he played in American Horror Story: Asylum, basically menacing and evil. In that FX series, he got to be more flirtatious and sexual. Why not have him go all the way here? It might have been crazy, but it also might have been more interesting. As it stands now, this show is too dull. Even the court case that Jack and Drew are fighting is too dull even for words.

One Star out of Five.
Rated TV-14-S.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Sundays at 10PM on ABC.


Popular Posts